Life Review: Living with No Regrets

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Reflecting on the Seasonal Changes in Life

For me, August is the time when I begin in earnest to harvest what I have sown in the spring. As I walked amongst the plants this morning, I ruminated on how fruitful some of my efforts were, and of how unproductive other gardening labors have been. As I mulled over some of my early spring decisions about plant choices and planting locations, I was drawn to ponder, one more time, on the metaphoric lessons taught by the seasonal changes continually taking place in my garden.

Reflecting on the constant cycles and transitions taking place, reminded me of the teachings of the Great Medicine Wheels of the World. Within this system of learning Spring is represented by the East and is symbolic of birth and youth and of all new beginnings. The South represents Summer; it is the place of the productive adult and represents the time of growth and fruitfulness. The West symbolizes Autumn and reflects the time to reap what is sown in the spring times and early summer months of our lives. Mid-life and later adulthood hold the place of the West. The North is symbolic of winter and represents the place of the Elder and the wisdom learned through the process of taking our place on each of the spokes of the Medicine Wheel.

The month of August often awakens a voice from deep within, a voice calling us to take account of the fruitfulness of our labors. Have we made good choices, good decisions? Did we sow strong seeds and in the correct places, in this and the other spring times of our life? Did we weed out the shoots that were attempting to strangle good new growth? Did we water and nurture the good growth until it produced good sweet fruit?
The metaphoric voice stirred by the seasonal changes of harvest prompt us into a process of life-review. Life-review is a soulful attempt at taking stock of our lives. Eric Erickson, a developmental theorist, described the life review process as a time to ask if the God’s are pleased with what, to this point, we have made of our lives. He referred to life review as a testing time, as a time when we examine and bless those aspects of life that we feel satisfied with, and attempt to make amends for those events and times where we recognize that we did not do as well as we should have.

Many, not recognizing the soulfulness of this experience, can feel confused by their need to reexamine various aspects of their earlier years. Yet, there is great value in doing a review of one’s life during the years when there may still be enough life-time left to make some important life and relationship changes.
In doing the life review some have regrets over choices made or not made. I would like to offer three bits of wisdom to help heal the emotional attachments to these regrets.

1)    Reward yourself for wishing you had made a different choice.
To me this means that over the years you have changed and transformed considerably.  If there was nothing in your past that you would not change if given the chance, then I would think there is a high possibility that very little soul growth has happened for you during the course of your lifetime.

2)    Put yourself right back in the same situation as you were when you made that choice and then determine if you were back there, at the same age, with the same skills, knowledge, resources, abilities and supports you had then, would you make the same decision as you made then?
We often judge the past from the place of wisdom, knowledge and experience of where we are now. That is not therapeutic. Most people, when asked to go right back to an earlier situation recognize that under the circumstances that they were in at that time, they likely made the best decision possible for them.
I like to offer this affirmation as a way to solidify this acknowledgement. “I did the best I could at the time. If I have another chance I will make my choices based on the knowledge and skills I now have.”

3)    Look at the event to which you have a regret attached and ponder the outcomes by asking, “And then what happened?” When you become aware of a positive outcome ask the same question again, “And then what happened?”  Continue this circular form of questioning until you are able to identify that overall there have been some very positive outcomes to that difficult event.

Doing the above process of life review can help us see life as a more meaningful whole rather than as snippets of difficult life events.

Happy autumn and may you reap bushels of fruit from the good seeds you have planted in the springs and early summers of your life.

©Jane A. Simington, PHD. August, 2013

My Summer Morning Prayer of Praise

 

roseMy summer morning prayer of praise is…

The awesomeness of awakening to the radiance of a glorious sunrise,
The rose planted by my husband last summer, which overnight burst forth into a profusion of golden- yellow blooms,
The glistening sunbeams on thin spider web threads hanging on my garden gate, making me dip my head to pass under, as I leave for a morning run.

My summer morning prayer of praise is…

The wondrous splendor of witnessing the nurturing of life taking place along the shore
The goose and her seven goslings quickly moving to the safely of the water, while the drake hisses to remind me of his job as protector of his family.
The young muskrat, a new arrival to the lake, perhaps determining the suitability of these surroundings for a home to sustain the new life he will parent in the coming fall and winter.

My summer morning prayer of praise is…

The wooliness of low- hanging clouds loosely draped beneath an expansive turquoise dome,
The movement of branches, the whispering of leaves and the breezes brushing my face, reminding me that Spirit rides on the wind,
The solidness of the hill beneath me, as I stand with outstretched arms to honor the dawn, to draw in the energy of new beginnings, and to be open to all the possibilities of this new day.

© Dr. Jane A. Simington, PHD.

A Father’s Love is Eternal

©Dr. Jane A. Simington PhD. June 1,2013

father   When I was a child, I loved to spend time with my father. Being the youngest girl in a large family, I learned early in life that if I wanted his undivided attention, it was up to me to be with him when he was alone. One misty morning as I tagged beside him on his walk to the far pasture, I heard my first echo. As my dad called to the cattle his words returned. Fascinated, I tried. What I sent, I received.

   Numerous times throughout my life I have pondered the Law of the Echo. What we send out returns to us. When we holler hello into a rain barrel, hello comes back.  When we holler “love” into the rain barrel “love,” comes back. The universe is a giant rain barrel from which the echo returns in the form that it is sent forth from us.  Continue reading

Mothering and Grand-Mothering: Weaving Spiritual Intergenerational Bonds

©Jane A. Simington, May, 2013

   As we approach the month of May, and Mother’s Day, I am drawn to reflect on the beliefs and feelings that surface as I ponder my experiences of being mothered and on how those experiences directly and indirectly affected my own mothering and continue to influence my grand-mothering. Each night during my childhood, mother snuggled me into bed asking that the Guardian Angels be at my side to enlighten, to guard, to rule, and to guide. Last evening as I tucked my youngest grandchild into his bed I was aware of how this nightly prayer to the angels, prayed by my mother with me, and prayed byimages me with my children, and now prayed by my daughter with her children, was being prayed by my grandson with me, his grandmother. During that precious time with my grandson I was aware that even though he had never known my mother during her lifetime, her prayerful influence had woven a spiritual inter-generational thread.  Continue reading

Spring Offers Opportunities to Reconnect With Nature

©Jane A. Simington, PHD. March 27, 2013

Spring is the perfect time to reflect on the Divine in all of Creation

    This morning as I watched the spring sun stream through my kitchen window I felt a surge of newness, a sense of being reawakened after a long winter slumber. Breathing a prayer of thanksgiving for the new beginnings that are taking place in nature caused me to reflect on how the changing seasons mirror the changes in my life, and the need to once again celebrate the teachings and practices that consecrate the universal marriage of matter and spirit.
Little by little, more and more of us are remembering, “We are nature. Long have we been absent. . . . We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again.”1 In coming full circle, we are reconnecting to the transformational power of the landscape, the elements, and the directions. As we do so, some feel bewildered by the deep and intense need to create sacred ceremony and practice sacred rituals that honor this connection.    Continue reading

Living Life on Purpose: Gaining Independence From Burnout

©Jane A. Simington, PHD. March, 2013

Living-on-purposeIt has been a long and for some, a difficult winter. This is the time of the year when many feel overwhelmed and at the edge of burnout. I share this article, hoping it will help you regain your footing on the earth. I wish you speed as you reclaim your purpose in life.

BURNOUT can be described as an erosion of the soul, a feeling that regardless of what a person does, they cannot make a difference in their workplace. Burnout is often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, a loss of motivation, and a sense of mismatch between what is being required and what the person is capable of. This is why burnout is recognized more as a situation of being off-purpose than of feeling overworked.

LIVING LIFE ON PURPOSE is increasingly becoming an important factor in peoples’ lives. This is especially true for those who have moved through a difficult life experience. Crisis has a way of driving people inward, there to discover the truer meaning for their lives. When this occurs, being involved in meaningful activities is an intensely important part of living. Since meaning and purpose are major spiritual needs, when the requirements of the job do not meet this end, the sense of soul erosion is heightened.

Burnout most commonly occurs for people who care deeply about their jobs and truly want to make a difference, yet are unable to do so because there is something about the job that interferes with this desire. Regardless of the cause, a person on the verge of burnout feels a sense of inner conflict between what is required of them and their own creative ideas and abilities. The conflict blocks their creativity and keeps the person from doing the best they can. Burnout and all its manifesting behaviors can become a way to self-preserve and justify one’s actions. Continue reading

The Power of Love

                A number of years ago, while attending the Trauma Recovery Certification training, a teacher who worked with troubled youth remarked that by the end of the year she wanted all the children to know that God loves them. In response, I invited her to ponder if a better intention might be that by the end of the year each child knew self-love.
                Working through my own grief, and being with many others who are grieving and traumatized,  I have learned that following any tragedy the search to reclaim personal worth is immense. Crisis drives us inward there to discover the deeper meaning of who we really are and our purpose for being.  The Chinese Holy Book, the Tao Te Ching teaches that only after we have discovered our true self, our own divine self, and have lovingly embraced that true self, can we love and embrace the divinity surrounding us.
     love           Love the world as myself; for only then can I care for all things.
The Tao Te Ching describes that each person has a unique purpose in life, and is endowed with the abilities to achieve that purpose. Craftsmen of the Middle Ages conveyed a deep respect for the talent they had been given. They believed the spiral patterns on their fingertips were marks left by the soul entering the body and they infused what they touched and the things they made with their soul’s energy. They honored the sacredness of their soul’s gift and deeply invested love energy into each creation. Continue reading

The Winter Solstice: A Time for Inner Reflection

© Dr. Jane Simington Ph.D., December 2012

 

The winter solstice occurs when the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky. This usually takes place on December 21 to 22 and creates, in the Northern hemisphere, the longest night of the year because the hours of darkness on that day are greater than they are at any other time of the year.

While interpretation of the ever-increasing darkness surrounding these days varied from culture to culture, the physical remains in archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in England, and Newgrange in Ireland indicate that the winter solstice was acknowledged. The primary axes of both these monuments are aligned with a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise in Newgrange, and the winter solstice sunset in Stonehenge.  Some believe that these exact alignments indicate a belief by these ancient peoples that during the winter solstice the earth is more closely aligned with cosmic forces and that prayers and offerings made during these hours are more likely to be received and responded to than if made at other times of the year. Evidence also indicates that these and most other cultures in the Northern hemisphere held ceremonies in recognition of the event. Common to most cultures were rituals appealing for the rebirth of the sun gods because during the winter months when the sun did not provide warmth and light for the growth of grains, starvation was common.

solsticetreeCeremonies honoring the return of the sun after the longest night continued into ancient Greek and Romans times. The festivals most commonly occurred on the night of December 24 and December 25. Christmas, the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus the “Son of God,” is also observed on December 25. Many celebrations attributed to Christmas eve and Christmas day are rooted in the ceremonies and festivals held during the winter solstice, including the advent preparation of letting go of the old so that the new can be birthed.

As the longest night approaches we are once again reminded that the cyclical rhythms of nature, are also within us and affects us deeply. The fading light causes us to acknowledge that darkness touches every life. Each of us experiences times of metaphoric coldness, yet when we allow ourselves to seize the opportunity, we settle in and re-centre. As we do, we become aware that this dormant time allows us to amass energy for our next great movement forward. Being thus connected with the seasonal changes in our own lives, as mirrored by the cyclic changes in nature, we bless the darkness knowing that it is always darkest just before daybreak, and that very soon a door will open through which the returning light will stream.

Honoring Our Veterans: A Discovery of Inner Peace

©Jane A. Simington, PhD. (Oct, 2012).

 In countries around the world, every November 11, citizens stop and ponder the freedom they experience as a result of the sacrifices made by those who have served their country in the maintenance of peace and liberty. November 11th honors all living and dead Veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve, and often despite great personal costs. In Canada, the day of honoring our veterans is known as Remembrance Day; in the United States it is Veterans Day. In many other countries this day is referred to as Armistice, for it marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I.

It was believed that the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918 at 11am (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) was a declaration to end the “War to end all wars.” Sadly, the positive predictions for that day have not been the reality.  

For many of us the search to find ways to end war and conflict has turned into a search for world peace. Peace symbols such as those of a dove carrying a green branch and the brilliant red poppy remind us of this quest.poppy

The red poppy which is now closely associated with November 11th symbolizes the peace brought to the world by the veterans who served during WWI. These poppies bloomed across the battlefields of Flanders; their brilliant red color was thought to represent the blood spilt during the war.
The tradition of wearing a red poppy to commemorate our veterans on November 11th began when a Canadian medical officer, John McCrae wrote this famous poem (1915).

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.”


His poem was published in Punch Magazine and by 1918, it was well known throughout the allied world. An American woman, Moina Michael, added her response.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

 

Yet despite the poetry and symbolism, the search for world peace goes on. Continue reading

Gratitude

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. Research has shown life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier, more resilient.  It strengthens relationships, improves health, and it reduces stress.

Let me start by expressing my gratitude.  Thank you to all who have supported my work, my husband, my daughters, my staff, all who have read my books, taken my training and used my resources. Each has helped to move forward my desire to make this world a more healed place. For that I am thankful.

The Miracle of Gratefulness

When thou dost ask me a blessing, I’ll kneel down and ask thee forgiveness.”
                         ~William Shakespeare- King Lear

“Give us this day our daily bread” had, for me, always been a prayer of both requesting and of gratitude. Among my fondest memories of childhood are my memories of smell. Primary of these are the aromas that wafted from mother’s homemade bread. Enshrined deep within the recesses of my brain are the sights and sounds that encompass those delectable whiffs. Growing up in a large farming family, we had limited material wealth, but of bread we were assured. Bread filled the Roger’s Golden Syrup pails that mother secured into the little red wagon to insure their safe delivery, by my brothers and me, to our father and his harvesting crews. Bread, which filled those same Roger’s Golden Syrup pails, fed our hungry bellies during school days. And warm newly baked bread greeted us as we arrived home on frigid prairie winter afternoons. Bread was central to our survival, and it was central to our celebration. While bread graced every meal, and the numerous snack times between, special breads announced festivity. Sweet buns awaited the Christmas Eve or the Easter Vigil mass. Their appearance indicated the time of fasting and abstinence had ended. Continue reading